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146          MY    COUNTRY   AND    MY    PEOPLE

stage. Isadora Duncan was honest enough to confess this. If
nature is cruel, nature is fair. To the common women, as to
the talented ones, she gives this comfort. For the joys of
motherhood are enjoyed by the clever women and the com-
mon ones. So nature has ordained, and so let men and women


The different ideal of womanhood in China involved a
different training for our daughters. The training for girls
differs, or used to differ, radically from that for boys. It was
much more severe for girls than for boys, and, coupled with the
general earlier maturity of women, girls learned this family
discipline earlier and were consequently soberer and better
behaved than boys of the same age. The girl in any case had
less of a childhood than the boy, and from the age of fourteen
she began to seclude herself and learn the manners of woman-
liness, for the Chinese conception emphasizes the womanly
woman: She rises earlier than her brothers, dresses more neatly
than they, helps in the kitchen and often helps to feed her
younger brothers. She plays with fewer toys, does more work,
talks more quietly, walks about more delicately, and sits more
properly, with her legs close together. She learns, above all,
demureness, at the cost of sprightliness. Something of the
childish fun and tomfoolery goes out of her, and she does not
laugh but only smiles. She is conscious of her virginity, and
virginity in old China was a possession more precious than all
the learning of the world. She does not easily let strangers see
her, although she often peeps from behind the partitions. She
cultivates the charm of mystery and distance, and the more she
is secluded the more she is worth. Actually, in a man's mind, a
lady shut up in a medieval castle is more enchanting than a girl
you daily see face to face across the lunch counter. She learns
embroidery, and with her young eyes and adroit fingers she
does excellent work and gets along much faster than she would
in trigonometry. The embroidery is pleasant because it gives
her time to dream, and youth always dreams. Thus she is